My name is Pat from Morgantown, Indiana. I have been hunting and shooting a compound bow for 25 years. I am new to traditional archery and have been shooting a longbow for seven months. While searching for information on the internet, I found Rick Welch. I was especially interested in learning more about him after finding that he has won many national championships. I also learned Rick has a shooting school and also makes traditional bows.
I have been shooting 3-D for about 10 years and my longbow for about 7 months. My longbow scores on 30 targets with 10-8-5 scoring usually between 185-225. I was very inconsistent to say the least. My main goal in shooting traditional equipment is to be consistent and know my limits and to place ethical and humane shots on the animals I hunt. Secondly, my purpose is to get good scores on the 3-D course and to do well in the upcoming traditional Nationals this year in Cloverdale, Indiana.
I purchased all of Rick Welch’s DVD’s and watched his videos on you tube. I also researched to learn more about what kind of guy Rick is. I talked to my wife about attending Rick’s shooting school and she asked why I couldn’t learn from his DVD’s. I told her I felt I could learn more by getting one on one instruction from Rick at his school. Little did I know my wife had already been in contact with Rick to send me to his school as a gift. What a great gift it was!
I arrived in Conway, Arkansas the night before my shooting school was to start. I met Rick at 8am the next morning when he picked me up to take me to the school. I was so excited the night before, I was like a kid on Christmas Eve who could not sleep. The first thing we did as we drove to the shooting school site was talk about how long I had been shooting and what kind of problems I thought I had. The first thing I noticed about Rick was what a nice, humble man Rick seemed to be.
When we arrived at the school, I took some practice shots to warm up. Then I shot 20 3-D targets while Rick filmed me and kept score. I did my usual kind of shooting. A few 10’s-8”s-5’s and a few misses. When we finished, we went back to the archery shop to watch me on video in slow motion. I was amazed at how bad I looked in slow motion. I had poor form, inconsistent anchor point, and I was over bowed. I told Rick I had an open mind to anything he wanted to change. I wanted to be as good as I could be. I jokingly said “Maybe as good as you, Rick”
Well, change I did. Rick changed my anchor point and showed me how to have a double anchor point by touching my nose to the back of my fletching. I tried to do this at home, but could not do it. Rick showed me how to fletch my arrow to make it really easy to touch my nose. He also showed me how to hold the bow back for 2-3 seconds to allow my bow arm to settle in on the target. Rick let me borrow his sons bow because it had a lighter draw weight .
The one thing Rick said that really made an impact was to “have a child like faith in your bow arm”. “Always trust it and never change its position at full draw…for better or worse till death do you part”. He explained this is your body’s way of programming. He further explained your body is an amazing computer - if it is a good shot, your body will store the information and if it is a bad shot, your body’s supercomputer will delete the information. If you change your bow arm in full draw, your body’s supercomputer will not have the data it needs to store the correct information. This is why Rick does not care how far away the target is. “How far is it? Don’t know…Don’t care” Where have we heard that before?
On the second day, Rick showed me how to tune my bow and arrow so the arrow will impact the target where my body naturally wants to place it on the target. This involved a few hours of discussion from Rick about his techniques he has developed for the past 25-35 years . Much of this information can not be obtained from Rick’s DVD’s, but is shared during your one on one time with Rick at the school. At the end of the second day, I did not feel I had learned all I could from Rick (and certainly to no fault of Rick’s…I was just eager to learn more). I asked Rick if I could do a third day at the school and Rick gladly agreed. By the end of the third day, I was feeling as if I understood what Rick was trying to teach me.
At the very end of the school, we shot the 3-D targets again. Rick shot video of me (the new Pat) shooting. I later found out Rick was secretly keeping score on each target I shot. My score when I left the class was 171 as opposed to my score of 121 when I first arrived. I was amazed. I am forever changed.
Rick is an amazing shooting instructor. He knows what to say and how to say it in order to encourage you. He knows when you are tired. He knows when you aren’t quite grasping what he is trying to tell you and he is always willing to work with you until you do get it. He teaches you how to know what you are doing wrong to allow you to correct it when you are on your own.
For those of you considering attending Rick school, you need to go with an open mind and allow Rick into you head. I can still hear Rick saying “hold, hold, hold…” or “keep your bow arm strong” or “trust your bow arm”. The most memorable thing Rick said to me was one word…”BELIEVE”. I still get Goosebumps when I think of him saying that one simple word.
Rick said when you leave his school, you are like a baby learning to walk. You have to practice and apply what you have learned. The most amazing thing is as you do practice, you will continue to hear Rick’s voice in your head.
My intentions are not to be long winded, but I also want to give anyone reading this a clear picture of the amazing, life changing experience I had at Rick’s school. My hopes are that by writing this, I will be able to allow people the opportunity to have the same experience I had. It truly has been life changing for me.
I know Rick may read this and my hopes are that he will know what an impact he has had on me. I told him one day when we were eating lunch what a humble man I thought he was and I sincerely mean that. He shared with me how his father instilled humility and humbleness in him at a young age and to let people talk about you…good or bad.
In closing, Rick Welch is a great teacher and his passion for traditional archery clearly shines when you meet him. All I can say is thank you Rick…..because of your willingness and faith in me, I am forever changed and now I get it “how far is it?…don’t know, don’t care”